in September of 1999, at the Citadel military college in Charleston, South
Carolina, president-elect George W. Bush gave a policy address that his
Orwellian speech writer called: “Defense: A Period on Consequences.”
that speech, he talked about “the contagious spread of missile technology and
weapons of mass destruction” and therefore the “need” to bolster our
unrivaled military power. “I know that the best defense can be a strong and
swift offense…The best way to keep the peace is to redefine war on our
central piece of Bush’s “defense” program is the implementation of
Reagan’s failed “Star Wars” initiative. Military planners must be excited.
In a Pentagon-commissioned Strategic Studies Group IV paper, it candidly states:
“In order to neutralize – and selectively deny access to – space, DOD
(Department of Defense) must develop the means to control and destroy space
assets, while selectively reconstituting its own capability through multiple
call it “space control.” It’s the logical extension of our policy planners
stated goal of “Full Spectrum Dominance” – “to defeat any adversary and
control the situation across the full range of military operations.”
Therefore, US forces must have “access to and freedom to operate in all
domains – space, sea, land, air and information,” according to the
Pentagon’s Joint Vision 2000 paper.
this talk of “defense” blurs important distinctions that need to be made if
one is to wade through all the double-talk. In military literature, the concept
of the use of force breaks down into two categories: deterrent and compellent.
idea of deterrence is quite simple: The deterring nation essentially says to the
aggressor: “If you do X, we will beat you silly with this stick.” Compellent
force, on the other hand, is the use of military power to either stop an
adversary from doing something he has already began or to compel him to do
something he has not yet initiate. “We are going to beat you senseless with
this stick until you do what we tell you to do.”
and company talk about Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), as if it’s about
deterrence. It’s not. It’s about first-strike capability – something that
can be glimpsed when you consider the development of Anti-Satellite (ASAT)
warfare – a program that US military leaders began pursuing in response to the
Soviets launching the Sputnik in orbit.
then, ASAT has been developing along side BMD, according to Robert Aldridge, a
former designer of Trident submarine missiles and a 25-year military technology
researcher. “Since missiles and satellites entered the modern age, schemes to
destroy both of them have been closely interwoven. BMD and ASAT programs,
ostensibly separated and autonomous, have supplemented and reinforced each other
for decades,” he explained in a paper published in August.
technology is attractive to military planners because it is easier to destroy a
satellite in a known and tracked orbit than to instantaneously detect, target
and destroy a ballistic missile, Aldridge points out.
Airborne Laser and the Space-Based Laser would also be much more effective
against satellites where they only shoot through the void of space, as opposed
to shooting down into the atmosphere at missiles in their boost phase. The
atmosphere tends to spread the laser beam – called blooming – so it is
diffused and cannot be concentrated on a vital spot,” he wrote.
also notes that decades of ASAT technology research and development has been
studiously ignored by the press and politicians. “With all the evidence and
professional opinion opposed to BMD – to say nothing of the political,
diplomatic, and arms control nuances – one must wonder if there isn’t an
ulterior motive for such tenacity to missile defense activities. BMD programs
could well be a front for developing an ASAT capability; at the very least, a
if so, why is ASAT development being done so clandestinely? Probably because the
uproar of public opinion would be even greater and international dissent even
truth about BMD and ASAT is masked by the “defensive connotations under which
they are presented to the public. It is hard to criticize anything that is truly
defensive….In this case, the announced intentions do not reflect the
capability the US is seeking – a capability revealed by close study of how
military development programs fit together to achieve it. That is an aggressive
first-strike capability which is neither defensive nor deterrent,” he
says “the best way to keep the peace is to redefine war on our terms.” I
think the best way to create peace is to redefine the terms of the debate and to
stop assuming that war is inevitable. This is Star Wars, the sequel, except this
is no movie.